Week 2. More Sleep
Sleep, the final frontier, a place many speak of with fondness, regaling tales of warm beds and sweet dreams, while others of us merely wish for this untouchable reality. The challenge for week two is to get enough sleep nightly. This is a problem for me. No sleep ever feels like enough sleep, I am either wired or comatose, there is little in between.
I lack balanced sleep, I run nonstop most days, barley taking time to sit and regularly not even taking my shoes off until 8pm or later. I’m the mom, I keep the family taken care of, it is a laborious work of love that occasionally leaves me drained beyond the point of return. Sleep derivation is just part of the game and I’d never trade any of it.
Breaking poor sleep cycles is possible with some steps towards sleep retraining. Sleep cycles and Circadian Rhythm are very real, as is sleep debt, these culprits in addition to some environmental factors are to blame for most insomniatic issues. More than 20% of people do not sleep well nightly, 49% of those people have never done anything about it! That’s crazy potatoes ya’ll. Week 2 challenge has me ready to take charge of my sleep and get it in check.
The most common sleep mistakes are personal choices and environmental factors. Consuming caffeine or alcohol before bed is a no-no. Having too much screen time on any type of device (blue light is a stimulant) is frowned upon. Sleeping with the family pet is also cause for repeated wake ups, as there is paw licking, head shaking, ear scratching, and in my home- bad black lab gas to shock you from your slumber.
Easy ways to correct problems with Circadian Rhythms (your bodies natural awake and sleep signals where lows are periods of time during the day when you feel the nap coming on) can be corrected with the establishment of a nightly bed routine. If you keep odd hours for work or hobbies this will directly impact your natural rhythm and result in less rested nights and stronger feelings of midday nap time glory calling your name.
Sleep cycles can be disrupted by environmental factors such as temperature, your pets, or even consuming too much water or food before bedtime. Too much to drink will have you up with frequent bathroom trips where eating prior to bed can cause the body to have a sugar spike and crash or cause heartburn from excess acid. When the sleep cycle is broken it must start all over again on the 4 phases of sleep, essentially resetting the clock and starving your body of precious sleepy resources.
The likelihood of peaceful slumber is achievable and simple to work into a routine for everyday life.
- Go to sleep at a decent time, the longer you tend to stay up the more likely you will hit your ‘second wind’ and have a harder time settling back down. It’s easier to fall asleep at 9pm than 2am. I’ve been a 20something before, I remember parting till all hours of the morning with little concern, but when 4am came I could hardly see straight.
- Make a bed time ritual. Do it every day. Take off your makeup, brush your teeth, take out your contacts, what ever you gotta do set a routine and stick to it. It’s very Pavlovian in theory, if you do something enough times you will begin to expect a certain outcome. Bed prep = sleep!
- Make sure that your bedroom is comfortable. Insure that your pillows are made for the position sleeper you are. Check and set the thermostat to keep the temperature in the room between 65-68 degrees, this will allow you to warm up under the blankets without getting too hot.
- Avoid stimulation from blue light devices like tablets, phones and tvs, opt for a book or music to help relax the brain in preparation of sleep. Blue light has been proven to impact the brain and can be just as stimulating as coffee.
- Watch what you eat or drink. Too much caffeine will keep you awake as will excess sugars. If you must have a prebed snack try to shoot with things high in tryptophan which is a chemical that transforms into serotonin in the brain peacefully easing the body into relaxation. Turkey is high in this chemical, hence why your fat,happy, and sleepy after Thanksgiving.
- If the pet in your life sleeps with in the bed with you, you may want to consider taking a breather and have Fido sleep on the floor or in another room. I believe firmly in this factor, my two dogs make so much noise during the night I find it easier to sleep with a fan making pink noise in the background.
The sleep challenge may be a week where I feel in over my head with changes but they should pan out to a full sleep bank and hopefully an uninterrupted sleep cycle. Application of the tips and tricks to sound sleep to my life will start with establishing a routine of ‘wind-down’ and build from there. I will make a time line and post it for you to take a look at, come back to see what a night in my life looks like. Happy sleeping!!